BEL MOONEY: How can I save my girl from her toxic partner?

Dear Bel,

My daughter has been in a relationship for 16 years with a man who has constantly humiliated her, treated her worse than a dog, talks to her like she’s half-witted (she’s a teacher), yet doesn’t work and lives her life. her merits.

This behavior got worse after she got pregnant ten years ago, and I think he has been ‘punishing’ her for having the baby ever since. When she told him about the pregnancy, his first words were: “You’ll get rid of it, won’t you?”, which he claims he retracted.

How can you undo something hurtful? Recently she told me she loves him, but I suspect it’s just so she can stay with her daughter.

He ‘discovered’ that she had an online relationship with a man in America. Foolishly, she expressed her love for this man because (I think) after years of humiliation, she took the chance at “happiness” with someone who told her she was smart, funny, and beautiful.

She sent him some compromising photos which, since she ended the relationship, he threatened to spread all over the internet.

Her partner is understandably furious about this stupid move (as am I, but who hasn’t made mistakes?), especially since she also included an innocent photo of their ten-year-old daughter. He tells her she has a serious mental health problem, but after ranting through him we’ve come to the conclusion that he has the problem.

His paranoid behavior seems to be becoming more and more extreme. He threatened that we would not see our granddaughter again, while practically foaming at the mouth, telling us to leave ‘his’ house.

My daughter is the mortgage holder – so how can he claim the house is his? He borrowed £20,000 from his parents for the deposit as she made little profit when she sold her house. She fell into debt after taking out a loan to buy his apartment, which he then sold for a huge profit. He told us that half of the house is his because he forced her to sign a co-ownership agreement.

He can’t take on the mortgage (because he’s unemployed), which I assume gives them 50/50 co-ownership.

I am concerned for the well-being of both my daughter and my granddaughter, but see no way to resolve this terrible situation.

Do you have any suggestions to help my daughter escape this toxic man? She is too scared to seek professional help and I fear she will be stuck in his evil web for the rest of her life.


This week, Bel advises a mother whose daughter is in a toxic relationship

One of the hardest things for a parent to come to terms with is how helpless we are – ultimately – to help our adult children.

Thought of the day

Then why do you wonder that good people are shaken so that they can become strong? No tree becomes strong and rooted unless a great wind blows upon it. . . It is therefore even to the advantage of good people. . . to live constantly in the midst of alarms, and to bear patiently those events which are injurious only to him who ill supports them.

From On Providence by Seneca (Stoic philosopher of ancient Rome, born 4 BC)

I’ll be honest: I currently live with this problem every day. We love them, see what’s wrong with their lives, maybe figure out what they can do to make things better, but then what?

We toss and turn at night and find ourselves involuntarily groaning and feeling nauseous with anxiety during the day, but what then? We work ourselves into a cold rage at the person or people who hurt them, but then what?

Helplessness – that’s what. I’m not trying to be depressingly negative because my role should be to help people, but while you can put a band-aid on a child’s scraped knee and soothe the tears with hugs and kisses, when your beloved child grows up , they will step out of your reach into messy lives that they must make (or break) themselves. This is the truth. We can offer words of comfort and support, but when we give advice, they usually don’t want it.

If your daughter says she still loves this horrible man and wants to stay with him, then (no matter how you interpret her reasons) there is nothing you can do to change her mind. The fact that she behaved

Her endless chatter has to stop!

Dear Bel,

I have a little problem that, I know, will seem like nothing. Still, it bothers me immensely.

Recently a lovely woman joined our knitting group, and although she is very kind and friendly, she never stops talking.

We all like to chat, get along and have great, interesting conversations – but we also listen to others in turn. That is certainly essential for any group.

But when someone takes a breath, this woman interjects with a related topic, but then continues, and continues, barely pausing, often with the most nonsensical conversations. The thing is, some of the other ladies turn around and have their own conversation, ignoring her, while the rest of us, the more polite ones, are just bored out of our minds.

She seems to have no self-awareness at all, even though she is a relatively intelligent woman with many interests. The point is that I’m worried about her and don’t want her to get hurt because someone says something undiplomatic, out of frustration or boredom.

Do you have any advice on how to deal with this?


Have you ever seen a play or read a short story by the great 19th century Russian genius Anton Chekhov?

His writer’s microscope so often focuses on the quiet, the homely, the seemingly trivial, and this approach leads readers to realize that every life matters, that the smallest detail can suggest an almost tragic intensity, and that we need more to understand about the world and our fellow human beings by observing them in their most modesty.

So here we have a knitting group and a new member who talks non-stop, much to the concern of another friendly member (you) who doesn’t want her to get hurt.

Yes, the subject is very small, yet it can teach us a lot about human nature. Why do people talk so much without thinking about the listeners?

More from Bel Mooney for the Ny Breaking…

I knew a dear man who drove his family crazy (but also sad) with shame because he tied people in knots and just talked to them without any response required.

He seemed completely self-centered and had no interest in others, yet I believe the problem lay in a deep sense of inferiority, compounded by the strange loneliness of someone who thinks no one really understands or appreciates him.

Nervous chatter can be the result of sadness and stress.

Could that be the problem here? Do you know much about this lady’s background and current circumstances? Is her meaningless chatter rooted in shyness, or perhaps stress caused by events in her life?

Does she feel inferior in some way? Is she new to the area and how did she hear about the group?

I’m bombarding you with questions because the first step forward is undoubtedly learning more about her.

You’re understandably afraid that someone will hurt her feelings, so you have to be brave enough to take her aside and tell her that while you’re happy to have her, she’s got the knitting group dynamic all wrong.

Gently tell her that everyone should listen to everyone and never control the conversation.

Sure, she can rein in a little, but you still need to have the trust that comes from essential kindness. It might be an idea to suggest a signal you can give her, to let her know it’s time to let someone else do the talking. You might say, ‘Oh no, I think I missed a beat’ – or something like that. Or be more open and say, “Okay girls, I think we need to change course – so what do you all think about x?”

You save her from herself and protect her from hostility.

Having said this, remember again that some people talk incessantly to fill the lonely silence within themselves, but others are thoughtless and self-centered. I hope you can find out.

And finally… Yes, life can start again, so be brave

IT’S always nice to hear from readers whose problem letters have appeared on the page, so I wanted to share this lovely email from SK with you.

It came a few weeks ago and I was grateful for this beam of positivity that many people will find inspiring.

‘Hi Bel, I don’t know if you remember me, but I wrote to you last year and you gave me advice that I didn’t like at the time. But I did accept it and I left my husband.

Contact Bel

Every week Bel answers questions from readers about emotional and relationship problems.

Write to Bel Mooney, Ny Breaking, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5hy, or email

Names are being changed to protect identities.

Bel reads all the letters, but regrets that she cannot conduct personal correspondence.

‘A year later I’m living the best life. I got our narrowboat in settlement and she is now my home.

‘I went on a 10-week solo cruise with her in July and had a blast.

‘It wasn’t always easy and sometimes I was sad, but I learned a lot about myself and the most important lesson of all: how to live on my own.

‘I’m now about to move to a marina for the winter and start a new journey.

‘I’m enjoying being single for the first time in 37 years and again, I can’t thank you enough for your advice and guidance.’

There are a lot of messages there. First, note that she didn’t like the original advice I gave, but upon reflection clearly realized I was right.

Many of us don’t like hearing what turns out to be the truth, but how brave of this lady to admit it.

How brave to embrace her new life as a single with such flair.

But the most important lesson for those of you in unhappy marriages is that you can start over.

Yes, it is difficult and scary – as dealing with change usually is.

I happen to believe in the institution of marriage and know that at best it can be the foundation of society, especially when it comes to raising children.

But when does it go wrong? SK’s email proves that life can start again.